Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Graves

Anyone up for a bad horror movie? 


The Graves | A Constantly Racing Mind
Sometimes I think that "Bad Horror Film" should be a category of its own. I find, like train wrecks, people want to see them, they fascinate them, and they love them. For some, this may be love at first sight, for others who see the lines forming and the congestion around the railroad tracks as a nuisance to avoid, then take warning, "The Graves," is just that style of film. Starring Jillian Murray and Clare Grant as the hot-Goth Grave sisters from Scottsdale Arizona on a last fling romp out into the desert in search for some adventure before growing up. Tony Todd (Candyman) also stars as a whacked out evangelistic-man-of-the-cloth nut job, leading his flock of religious fanatics with a rather comical fervor. "The Graves," is yet another offering from After Dark films, Horrorfest collection of films, so that was your heads up. This is a bad horror film, filled with cliché’s that if anything may sparkles a few laughs in those that consider themselves somewhat twisted. You know who you are!


Megan and Abby Graves, two Goth-Punk sisters living in Scottsdale Arizona, are about to join the world of adults as Megan (Clare Grant) the older of the two is taking a job in New York as an unspecified marketing drone position. Her seemingly weaker and younger sister Abby (Jillian Murray) is lost without elder sister Megan, to fend for her. The writer and director, Brian Pulido (There's Something Out There), trying to give a sense of realism as in The Blair Witch Project, chose to jump points of view from a camcorder that the sisters are using to record their lasts days together, to filming in the third person, creating jumpy editing. The girls quickly get lost and find themselves in the town of Unity, Arizona where they stop for some directions and a bite to eat. While planning their route at a diner, Tony Todd enters wearing the typical white collar, black cloak of a priest. Darlene (Amanda Wyss), the diner's server, tells the girls about the Skull City Mine ghost town just outside of Unity. Megan, convinced that her younger sister needs to get a life; takes the bait. Tony Todd, as the Reverend of the Church of Devout Ascension, starts preaching, having a strange control over the people in the diner; the sisters make a hasty departure. 


Arizona has many abandoned mining towns, so finding a location to shoot this epic wasn't too hard to find. The girls turn off onto a dirt road and come upon the ghost town. The girls go ahead, sign up for the self-guided tour, costing them seven dollars a head as explained to the sisters by the creepy, pasty-faced, Mama (Barbara Glover). Like the girls, the film meanders around, giving the audience cause to wonder why anyone would make this film. We know the town is a scam, prior to this we see scenes where families, couples and tourists willingly walk around this dilapidated set looking for a blacksmiths shop where they are brutally murdered by Jonah (Shane Stevens), a burly biker looking dude with a good-sized hammer used for bashing in the tourists heads. It takes Jonah no less than four solid whacks to kill his victims, I know because I counted. The girls soon find what is in store for them as they run around the deserted town looking for an escape. Megan, the older sister makes a stand and kills Jonah; at this point, the smoke monster from the TV series "Lost" quickly consumes his corpse. Apparently, there is a demon in the mineshaft that demands souls to feed upon. The girls find their way back to the road and try to get a ride for help. Silly girls, get real... Caleb, the driver of a passing truck sees the blood on Megan and quite convincingly, until he announces that Jonah is his brother, trapping the three of them. He shoots Pete, another victim, with his shotgun, more blood, and tells the girls that he is coming after them. Caleb (Bill Moseley - "The Devil’s Rejects"), dons a pig nose, oinks a bit and begins chasing the girls around. Mayhem ensues and the girls finally get it through their heads that the place is a "Tourist Trap" (1979) -- that they just killed the Texas Chainsaw murderer ("The Texas Chain Saw Massacre" - 1974) -- and that they are surrounded by "The Children of the Corn" (1984), and we get to see Tony Todd ("Candyman") at his evangelical best.


"The Graves" is a low budget flick and not on the same level of the of a classic horror film. However, "The Graves," as bad horror flicks go, is more of a pop-culture, comic book caricature display of affection of the horror film genre. The most essential ingredients that a decent horror film needs are sex, blood, inane plot, a Satanist or a truly evil antagonist, and good music. Brian Paludo, former president of Chaos Comics, Brian is no stranger to this formula. Unfortunately, looking back at the special effects, the blood, the screams, the music, and the acting, you will notice something missing. What "The Graves" is lacking, is the aura of suspense. The acting is barely passable, Tony Todd and Bill Moseley being the most convincing; bring out a sense of evil to their characters. However, there is nothing in the film that compels the viewer to reach out and snuggle closer to their significant other, than the screams of a demon coming to collect a soul. "The Graves" contains no shocking moments, no defining characters, and nothing; to give you reason to care if Abby or Meg got their heads hacked off eventually. Let's wait for Brian's next movie.

Movie Data

Genre:  Horror, Adventure, Thriller
Year:  2009
Staring: Tony Todd, Bill Moseley, Jillian Murray, Clare Grant
Director: Brian Pulido
Producer(s) Chris LaMont, Brian Ronalds, Dean Matthew Ronalds
Writer: Brian Pulido
Rating: R